New law makes animal cruelty federal felony

Published 1:43 pm Friday, October 25, 2019

A new law passed by the U.S. House of Representatives will make animal cruelty a federal felony. H.R. 724, also known as the PACT Act (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture), was passed by the House on Tuesday.

The PACT Act bans extreme, intentional acts of abuse to animals including crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals. According to the bill, it retains existing criminal offenses that prohibit knowingly creating or distributing an animal crush video using interstate commerce. The bill also adds a new provision to criminalize an intentional act of animal crushing.

The bill states that a violator is subject to criminal penalties — a fine, a prison term up to seven years or both.

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The bipartisan bill, which was introduced in the House on Jan. 23, was introduced by Florida Reps. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, and Vern Buchanan, a Republican. The bill has approximately 300 total co-sponsors from both sides of the political aisle.

In a press release, Deutch said, “Today’s vote is a significant milestone in the bipartisan quest to end animal abuse and protect our pets. This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals. We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum.

“Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice. Law enforcement officers have sought a federal overlay to help them stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people. And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do. I’m deeply thankful for all of the advocates who helped us pass this bill, and I look forward to the Senate’s swift passage and the President’s signature.”

Many in the Bell County community agree with the law and believe it is long overdue.

“Love it,” said Christy Wallace on the Middlesboro Daily News Facebook page. “(It) should have been done a long time ago.”

Cheryll Chance said, “(It) should have been a law years ago.”

Scott Ledford said, “I think it should be life in prison.”

Helena Woods simply said, “Progress.”

The bill is now in the hands of the Senate.